In many states, winter brings icy roads, dangerous conditions, and slippery surfaces—and many an opportunity to catch a cold (or worse). Now more than ever, you must have a plan for your operations and workforce during these times.
Fortunately, OSHA is serious about informing businesses and workers on how to prepare for inclement winter weather and helping to ensure safety throughout the season. Their helpful recommendations are the best way to protect your workers and your business:
Promote Safe Driving
If your employees commute to your job site, make sure you promote safe driving. Remind your workers about checking vehicle systems, from their brakes to the oil—particularly if they are operating any type of machinery on site. Include emergency kits within each of your work vehicles as well, complete with all recommended items including:
- Cellphone or two-way radio
- Windshield ice scraper
- Flashlight with extra batteries
- Tow chain
- Traction aids (bag of sand or cat litter)
- Emergency flares
- Jumper cables
- Road maps
- Blankets, change of clothes
Educate on Cold Stress
Learn the different types of cold stress from hypothermia to frostbite to immersion and how to recognize conditions that can lead to cold stress and cold stress symptoms. You’ll also need to know how to prevent cold stress and treat those who are affected, and the proper clothing for inclement weather. Then, make sure you educate your team on these same things.
Workers should know how to recognize symptoms of cold stress so they know how to treat it. Cold stress may look different depending on weather conditions, whether it’s extreme cold, near-freezing temperatures, or even increased wind speed.
Common Risk Factors for Cold Stress
- Wetness/dampness, dressing improperly and exhaustion
- Preexisting health conditions such as hypertension, hypothyroidism, and diabetes
- Poor physical conditioning or preparation
- Read more in OSHA’s Cold Stress Guide.
Address the Conditions
Although it may be tempting to brush off potential dangerous conditions in favor of getting the job done in time, it’s not worth risking long-term safety and legal issues. Be sure you prepare the job site and anyone working on the job site for safety, including but not limited to clearing snow and ice from walkways, spreading deicer, ensuring all mechanics are winter-proofed with proper maintenance and providing adequate fall protection.
If the job site is simply too dangerous or risks too high for work, postpone the job and help your workers understand the importance of safety. If workers have a high risk of getting to your job site, consider allowing them time off or the opportunity to make up the time when conditions are safer.
Rather than risk losing someone on your team to sick days or injury, get hands on deck that are healthy, ready, and can get to you without putting their safety in jeopardy. This is when a staffing partner like PeopleReady helps—and can provide you with the workers you need to get the job done, no matter the forecast.